Thursday, February 28, 2008
Today Bill Caverlee came into Kinko's to copy a story of his in the current Saint Ann's Review, and I had the pleasure of catching up with him. Mr Caverlee is a local writer who makes a living as a carpenter, cabinetmaker, etc; when I was a boy, Mr Caverlee would occasionally work on projects around our house. We first got to know him through a mutual friend, Bill Smith. Mr Smith and Mr Caverlee were both English majors at LSU and later worked together as building contractors.
I could tell there was something different about Mr Caverlee, aside from the fact that he was a middle-aged bachelor. Even though he didn't go to church, he was different. He was skilled but humble, and he had a soul. I really wished he went to church, but I still admired his soul and was curious as to its source of inspiration. Eventually I learned that he was a writer.
During my early high school years, Mr Smith was my informal writing tutor, and one day I asked him if he had any of Mr Caverlee's stories. He did, but he was cautious. Some of them were grown-up stories, he warned - stories with women who had "weathered breasts" and such. But after talking to my parents, he let me borrow them anyway, and thus I was introduced to the world of contemporary American short stories, particularly of the Southern variety.
This morning, after showing me his Saint Ann's Review story, Mr Caverlee told me about a piece of his in today's Christian Science Monitor and another in the current Oxford American. When I got home tonight, after suppper I found the delightful CSM piece about enjoying the richness of downtown Monroe as a boy in the late '50s, as well as an abstract for the OA piece about chess champion Paul Morphy. I also found a couple previous OA pieces of his - one on Flannery O'Connor and one on the Hollywood ending of Bonnie & Clyde - and his OA author bio.
I remember reading or hearing something (probably this NPR Fresh Air interview) about recent poet laureate and Pulitzer winner, Ted Kooser. I don't think I've ever read any of his poetry, but I was impressed by the fact that he worked for 25 years (as a life insurance executive), writing early in the morning before work. Bill Caverlee is a similarly inspiring example to me.
Incidentally, while I was on the OA site, I found another piece that some of you might enjoy: "HOW TO WRITE STORIES...and lose weight, clean up the environment, and make a million dollars" by George Singleton.
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